AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Andrelton Simmons is cool. Losing four straight is not going to change the Atlanta Braves’ mood.
The Braves came up empty against Dillon Gee in his return from the disabled list, wasting a strong effort from Ervin Santana in a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday night.
“I do not think anybody is worried about it, nobody is concerned,” the Braves’ shortstop said. “You have hot streaks and cold streaks. We are going to be fine. Just have to keep battling.”
The Braves went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position in losing their third straight in a four-game series against the Mets after sweeping them in Atlanta last week. The Braves dropped a game behind first-place Washington in the NL East after surging to the top of the division with a nine-game winning streak.
Atlanta has scored just eight runs over the skid and is 5 for 38 (.132) with runners in scoring position over that span.
“When we were winning nine in a row we were driving in the runs in situational hitting,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Obviously we are not doing that now.”
The Mets, on the other hand, have won four straight for the first time in a year.
Gee (4-1) returned from a two-month absence and pitched seven-plus dominant innings against the free-swinging Braves.
“They are a real aggressive team. They always have been,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “They are very, very dangerous. They live and die with that tremendous power throughout their lineup.”
That powerful lineup has not homered during the drought.
Mets catcher Travis D’Arnaud had the only homer Wednesday, a two-run shot in the seventh that came two pitches after Kirk Nieuwenhuis gave New York a 2-1 lead with a sacrifice fly. The drive to left field off Santana (7-6) gave New York a homer in nine straight games at Citi Field, a team record for the stadium that opened in 2009.
David Wright got the tiebreaking rally in the seventh started with a lazy liner to left-center that he turned into a double when left fielder Justin Upton took a lackadaisical approach to getting the ball in. Wright advanced to third on Lucas Duda’s fly to right.
Duda gave the Mets an early lead with a two-out RBI single in the first. B.J Upton’s RBI double in the fifth after Santana had an infield hit tied it 1-all.
In between, both starters were particularly stingy, allowing three baserunners total between the second and fifth innings. All three were wiped out by double plays — two by the Mets.
Activated from the disabled list to make the start, Gee fit into the rotation slot left open when Jonathon Niese went on the DL on Sunday because of a left shoulder strain.
The 28-year-old Gee was on quite a roll when he strained his right lat May 10, going 3-1 with a 1.36 ERA in his last five starts.
Back on the mound with a scruffy beard Wednesday, he was just as good.
Gee faced the minimum 15 batters through five innings. A walk to leadoff batter B.J. Upton was wiped out by a caught stealing — after a replay review. New Jersey native Tommy La Stella opened the third with a single but Gerald Laird grounded into a double play.
Gee was lifted in the eighth with runners on first and second. He allowed six hits, a walk and struck out four.
Vic Black then got three outs to quash the rally. Jenrry Mejia gave up two hits and threw a two-out wild pitch in the ninth before striking out La Stella to loud cheers from the sparse crowd for his ninth save in 11 chances.
Santana was equally tough into the seventh. After allowing a double to Daniel Murphy and Duda’s RBI hit in the first, he yielded just one hit until Wright doubled.
He allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings. Coming in, the Mets had just one run in 15 innings this season against Santana.
“It was a great game for both sides,” Santana said.
NOTES: The Braves wore white T-shirts during batting practice with the message in red letters: “(hashtag)voteJup; for the 2014 All-Star game.” OF Justin Upton is one of five candidates for the final NL All-Star spot, selected by fans in internet voting that ends Thursday. … Gonzalez said about C Evan Gattis (back), “I don’t see him being ready to play” right after the All-Star break next week. … Up next: Atlanta’s Aaron Harang (8-6) and New York’s Bartolo Colon (8-7) face off in the finale of the four-game series.
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